EU’s Conclusions on ISIS and the Crisis in Iraq

Photograph: ph: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images
Photograph: ph: Safin Hamed/AFP/Getty Images

Finally EU foreign policy ministers have commented on the situation in Iraq. After the Foreign Affairs council meeting on June 23, 2014 in Luxembourg, the Council of the EU expressed several conclusions on the crisis in Iraq.

Here are some of most important points of the conclusions:

  1. Europeans condemned the attacks perpetuated by ISIS – identified by the Council as Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) – and affiliated groups in Iraq.
  2. The EU expresses its concerns about the humanitarian crisis taking place in Iraq and will increase the total of humanitarian assistance by €5 million, bringing it to a total for 2014 of €12 million.
  3. The EU underscores its commitments to the unity of the state of Iraq and finding a political solution to achieve such goal.
  4. The EU calls on the Iraqi government to implement “decisive measures to promote an inclusive approach, respect the rule of law and human rights and address the needs and legitimate aspirations of all components of Iraqi society, which are prerequisites for the stability and security of the country and the region.”
  5. One of the most important conclusions, the EU “notes the close link” between the crisis in Iraq and the “situation in Syria” causing the “flow of foreign fighters, which contributes to exacerbating tensions in both countries, and reiterates the urgency to move towards a genuine political transition in Syria.”

Ultimately and as expected, the conclusions advanced by the Council are toothless and do not reflect the degree of the crisis on the ground and in the region. The gap between the framing of the problem on the two sides of the pond is certainly quite interesting. From an American perspective, US officials have undeniably securitized the issue of ISIS and the Iraqi chaos. The debate in Washington is in between the neoconservatives arguing in favor of military interventions, and the others in favor of a more political and diplomatic approach. From an European stand point, ISIL and Iraq seem only some sort of foreign/remote problems. There is no mention of the degree of the threat and the national security crisis caused by ISIS; or even a possible partnership to American efforts on the ground in terms of providing assistance in the training of Iraqi Armed Forces – police and army combined –. The ministers strategically avoided the core of Iraq crisis (see the previous analysis on the matter as well as Biscop’s from Egmont), which could lead to conclude that the EU may remain passive on the matter.

So far the EU is consumed by two current crises. First, the Ukrainian crisis seems the priority for the EU considering the innumerable numbers of talks and declarations coming for the EU and the EEAS. The situation between Ukraine and Russia is certainly alarming, however, avoiding the Iraqi crisis may hurt the Union in the long-term. How can the EU wanting to be a regional security power continues cheery-picking the crisis it wants to tackle? Second, since the elections of the new European

Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg
Photographer: Jock Fistick/Bloomberg

Parliament in May 2014, the current European game of thrones has been taking place (see several analyses on the issue here, here and here). The European heads of states and governments are now in crisis management mode around the divers appointments of future high level positions such as the President of the Commission, the President of the European Council, the President of the European Parliament and the next HR/VP for Foreign Affairs. Most of the attention is taking place on the ongoing political fraught between British Prime Minister Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel on the appointment of the Jean-Claude Junker as the next President of the Commission. So far for Europeans, the fight around the control of European institutions seems more important than the one over the complete shift and crisis taking place in one of the most volatile regions of the world.

(Copyright 2014 by Politipond. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.) 
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